Book Review · Historical · Young Adult Fiction

The Book Thief

TBTbyMZ

The Book Thief is a highly acclaimed book that I just didn’t care for. I can appreciate what it is and what it is trying to do, but I just didn’t get the same feelings from it that others did. The Book Thief takes place during World War II in Germany. The narrator is Death. He tells the story of Liesel Meminger and the trials she and her friends/family face. The Book Thief is an important book and it is a good book for young people to get a glimpse of this time period though it may not be perfect or perfectly accurate. I did not enjoy it as much as I “should have.” Since this is such a popular book I feel like I’m supposed to sing its praises, but I only liked it and did not love it.

I listened to the audio book version so perhaps that had some influence of my opinion. The narration was actually pretty good. The voices for the characters were quite good, but I didn’t think that the writing lent itself to audio very well. I didn’t like how the beginning of each part had a list of characters that are featured within it. I also hated how many lists were in the book. It seemed like every few minutes I was getting a 1.), 2.), 3.) list of something. Both of these things really interrupted the flow of the reading for me.

Zusak writes well, I’ll give him that. He is often poetic, but I found some parts of the text very repetitive. Besides the lists I mentioned above the characters repeat themselves a lot. “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” the constant cursing in German, and the descriptions of a character’s “lemon colored” hair got old fast. I understand that many people have certain phrases they say often, but I couldn’t help but get tired of hearing it. Perhaps it was another thing that was more obvious because of the audio book?

The main thing that really bothered me was how the story was told. I didn’t realize it was narrated by death until a few pages in. (Somehow I went into this blindly even though I was very late to the party on this one.) That alone is an interesting concept, but it also ruined things for me. Death would say something like, “something bad is going to happen to this character!” I get it. Death is telling this story from the past and/or he knows everyone’s fate, but it didn’t make me nervous for the characters or emotionally attached to them. I knew who was going to die so I didn’t get emotional about their deaths. Death didn’t even give me a spoiler alert. Maybe I’m just an idiot or a robot, but I didn’t understand the hype with this one.

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